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3.50  ·  Rating details ·  515 ratings  ·  112 reviews
The Black Dog of Depression has descended over the adults of Dublin. Uncles are losing their businesses, dads won’t get out of bed, mothers no longer smile at their children. Siblings Raymond and Gloria have had enough and set out one night with one goal in mind: to stop the Black Dog, whatever it takes. In a chase through the streets and parks and beaches of Dublin, the c ...more
Hardcover, 183 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Harry N. Abrams (first published May 2014)
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Average rating 3.50  · 
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Apr 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
After I discovered that Roddy Doyle had written a children’s book and that he would be tackling the subject of depression, I was really keen to read it. In Brilliant, he tackles both the economic depression and the illness of depression, illustrating the link that the one can have with the other when a job is lost for example. The story is very readable indeed and captures the menace of the darkness that the big black dog brings with it. With his words he draws on this name for depression, the b ...more
Aug 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: children, 2015
It started off really well but became quite repetitive - could have been a lot shorter and then more enjoyable. A great idea though and a way for kids to understand what depression is / open up for discussion.
My feelings about this book went back and forth quite a bit. There were bits that I really really enjoyed, that gave me goosebumps, that even made me tear up! Yet, I kept thinking about how I would have felt about this book as a young reader. I doubt I would have been able to understand a lot of the more adult concepts such as the financial stress of a mortgage. Nothing wrong with an adult having to explain a little further, but as a kid I probably wouldn't have asked anyone for clarification.

Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
Jul 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Middle Grade Readers & Parents, Teachers, Librarians
I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks for the opportunity.

Brilliant is a funny yet meaningful book for middle grade readers tackling the subject of depression in a very clever way.

The Black Dog of depression had invaded the city of Dublin. No humans noticed. But the animals did. The city's pets tried to warn their owners but the humans weren't listening. A bark was a bark, and a mew was just a mew.

When Uncle Ben comes to
Nancy Kotkin
Not much plot here. Two siblings like to hang out underneath the kitchen table late at night listening to adult conversation that they don't understand. At first their parents are aware they are there and watch what they say, but later the adults somehow don't notice them and stop censoring their dialogue. The children then go on a wild goose chase for an imaginary "black dog" that is plaguing all the adults in Dublin. They don't know why they are pursuing this creature, or what they hope to acc ...more
Rebecca Petruck
I chased this story through one sweet morning.

In what might seem the simple tale of children chasing down a dog in the night, huge themes are touched on--depression, love, and the power of community. Lovely language, talking animals, and gentle magic culminate in an oddly touching story that ends with a city's funny bone. I teared up and smiled while I did.

"They ran. They stayed warmer that way and running seemed to be the right way to measure their love for Uncle Ben. They wanted to hear thei
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this gentle fantasy set in Dublin. Two young children heard that the black dog (of depression) is ruining their uncles life so they set off on a quest to find and defeat it. The book is like the title - Brilliant.
Disability in Kidlit
"When the grown-ups speak sadly of “the black dog of depression,” the children assume that it’s a literal dog that has caused nationwide depression by stealing Ireland’s funny bone.

That premise alone is strange enough, but then this theory that the kids half made up turns out to be completely true. Gloria and Raymond go out one night and actually find the enormous dog that’s caused everyone’s depression. Naturally, such an enemy is dangerous to fight. Getting too close to it can make you lose yo
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sweet little book. Wasn’t sure if it was written for kids or adults.
Feb 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: speculative
The story deserves to be commended for tackling some heavy themes while being targeted at a young audience, but the repetitiveness of the plot stops it from being truly exemplary.
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Super cute story for kids about "The Black Dog of Depression". It was repetitive in some places, but that is my only real gripe. ...more
Wayne McCoy
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
'Brilliant' by Roddy Doyle and illustrated by Emily Hughes is actually tied in to Dublin's Saint Patrick's Day parade. Back in 2011, Roddy Doyle was asked to write a short story and each chapter would tell a story of the float that people were seeing.

Raymond and Gloria like to sneak down and listen to what their mother and father are talking about. It's a fun game that the adults are in on. Ever since Uncle Ben came to live with them, the growups don't talk out loud at night, and when the kids s
Adele Broadbent
This was a clever way to show young readers the all emcompassing power of depression. It begins with a game played by siblings Gloria and Raymond. They sneak down and hide under the kitchen table while their parents are chatting. But soon the chatter becomes the 'mumbling.' This is when the laughter goes from the chatter and serious things are discussed. The children learn that Uncle Ben is coming to stay. His business is suffering in the recession and he can't stay in his house.
When they overhe
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
This cute book had such a hopeful and magical feeling about it. When the "Big Black Dog of Depression" takes over the city of Dublin, it's up to the children to get the city's funny bone back and get the adults laughing again. I loved how empowered and caring the children in this story are! The two main characters' (siblings Raymond and Gloria) Uncle Ben has moved in with them while he goes through some hard times. Through some clever eavesdropping, the kids learn their uncle has depression and ...more
Mar 17, 2016 rated it liked it
I wasn't sure the pumpkin princesses would enjoy this one as a bedtime story, but they really did. The 10-year old loved it all the way through; the 8-year old thought there was too much aimless chasing toward the end and would have liked a more complex resolution. ...more
Sarah MacTavish
Stole my heart in one sitting. Beautiful, precious, clever, sweet, touching, funny, and important.
James Perkins
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
I recently came back from a trip to Ireland, so I thought I'd read something by the famous Irish writer Roddy Doyle. He's not well known for juvenile literature, so I was surprised he'd written a novel for children, but that didn't put me off. Well-written kids' books can be fun to read, even as an adult. Brilliant starts well: the sparkling Irish humour is there, the childish understanding is there, and the characters are realistic, if not detailed. But when the kids decide to fix everything fo ...more
Jul 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: storytime
My son and I enjoyed this storytime read... It was a humorous way of looking at hard times people go through and depression, but at the same time, I worry that a child might interpret the message to be "It's up to the children to save the adults from depression," when that is far too great an onus to put on a child... I don't think my son, who is sensitive to inferences, took it that way, but things brew in him for a while before the percolating takes place, so we shall see. If I had a family me ...more
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Roddy Doyle creates a funny fictional story in his book Brilliant. The story starts off with the Black Dog Of Depression sneaks in to the city of Dublin at night. Nobody else knew until now. Siblings Raymond and Gloria set off to stop the Black Dog so they can save their uncle. They search for it but, they don't know how to be it. . The theme I get from this book is that you should stay positive no matter what. The Black Dog tries to make them feel like nothing but, they always stayed positive.

May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-reads
Brilliant is the only word I can even think of to describe this book.

Absolutely the brilliant. A book everyone should read. It follows the journey of understanding depression and waging war against it in such a personal way. Every person needs to read this. The people are crippled by believing lies, but the children discover that the only way to defeat the darkness is to bring light in and to speak truth over themselves. Our lives are the same.

I read this so quickly while sitting by the pool on
Christina Reid
I liked many things about this - namely the use of slang so I could point out to my (English) partner - "Look! Other people say 'yer man' 'eejit' and 'fillum'"
The idea of the Black Dog of Depression is creative and could be a great conversation starter for children, especially the descriptions of how it makes you feel hopeless. The story gets a bit repetitive though, with the children running around on what reads almost like a tour of Dublin. I also wasn't a fan of the illustrations.
I really like the first four chapters of this book. The idea of the "black dog of depression" stealing Dublin's funny bone is a good one. But the rest of the book was just the kids running and talking to animals. That's it. It didn't really make sense and the book ended up feeling very choppy and random. ...more
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Ok this book is obviously for a younger audience however I still believe the symbolism of the black dog was brilliant! Sorry had to say it.
I would actually give this book 3.5 stars.
I thought this book was encouraging as it helped this older lady feel better and helped with my reading slump.
I truly appreciated this story and how well it was written and how well depression was wrote in a such a format very interesting and good for any person.
Sara K
Mar 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting idea of Dublin children saving their loved ones from the black dog of depression by rescuing the city's funny bone, but slow moving and seemed VERY repetitive as a read-aloud to my 7 year old. ...more
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
I loved this! Roddy Doyle's books always have a certain whismy to them, and this one did it while tackling a bigger issue.
The start is a little slow as it establishes everything and jumps back and forth, but the ending is just... Brilliant.
What a strange story!
Eimear Ní
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is fantastic
Give it a go
Tom O'Brien
Mar 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: novellas, ya
A frequently touching little oddity that doesn't quite hold together. ...more
Feb 03, 2019 rated it liked it
A cute kids book, teaching about depression in a way that might be more accessible to kids.
Liz Kidd
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Good. Worth reading, but not as brilliant as I had been led to believe. A bit repetitive - although maybe that is the point.
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Roddy Doyle (Irish: Ruaidhrí Ó Dúill) is an Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter. Several of his books have been made into successful films, beginning with The Commitments in 1991. He won the Booker Prize in 1993.

Doyle grew up in Kilbarrack, Dublin. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from University College, Dublin. He spent several years as an English and geography teacher before becoming

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“Gloria screamed, but nothing came out. She could feel the scream in her throat, but it was clinging there, too scared to climb out of her mouth.

Raymond might have screamed, too--he wasn't sure. His face was an exploding red ball--that was what it felt like. His heart was in the middle of his head. He couldn't see a thing.”
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